For a few brief but tumultuous years, Kevin Federline put it all out there for everyone to see.
Then he packed it in and maybe never would have been heard from again, except for the fact that he shared two children with one of the most famous women on the planet, Britney Spears.
He didn't score any style points in the beginning, when he broke up with his pregnant girlfriend, whom he'd already had a daughter with in 2002, and promptly married Spears, then proceeded to go down in pop culture infamy with Britney and Kevin: Chaotic while living that tooling-around-in-a-Ferrari life. Then, two months after their second child together was born in 2006, Spears filed for divorce and the rest is history. As well as the haunting subject of the recent New York Times Presents episode "Framing Britney Spears."
But people can change. Or at least grow up.
"Things don't really bother me unless it's really something serious," Federline told VladTV in 2016. "Something that's going to harm my children, or personally harm somebody that I love, or that's next to me, that's close to me… So, like, talk is cheap. I'm pretty strong when it comes to all that stuff, which I think is how I personally survived through it—emotionally, mentally—I'm still the same person that I was when I moved to L.A. 20 years ago."
Recalling his fraught time with Spears, being trailed by paparazzi everywhere they went ("I've met guys that built companies off of following us around for two years") and the turmoil that followed the implosion of their marriage, the Fresno, Calif., native said, "That was at the, like, height of everything and you're thrown into this thing and you're thrown into that thing and the in-between stuff. I know it happened. I know why it happened. That's pretty much all that I'm going to say."
And though Spears' staunchest supporters will never forgive him for disrupting her life in any way and ending up on the receiving end of five-figure monthly child support payments for his time, these days Federline is otherwise just your average family guy, remarried and now a father of six. And even the woman he wronged in the beginning has always had kind things to say about him as a parent.
"He's an amazing dad," Shar Jackson, mother of Federline's 19-year-old daughter, Kori, and 16-year-old son, Kaleb, who was born two months before her ex married Spears, told People in January 2007, just months after he and the "Baby One More Time..." singer split up.
"He's a great dad," she continued, "and if you said his name right now, Kori would go crazy. That's the love of her life." Asked to describe the child's bond with her father, Jackson said, "He was there for her every minute of her life until, you know, we weren't together anymore. He did everything for her, so I guess that's why." (He wasn't paying her child support, Jackson, also mom to a son and daughter with ex Corey Jackson, told Inside Edition in November 2006. But Federline was paying for school, "and they go to a very expensive private school.")
The Moesha actress said, "It's not really hard [to co-parent] because we were friends even before we were romantic and we were friends through being romantic and there was no reason to change that." As for Federline, "Everything he does, as far as his career, and everything like that, he does it for his kids. When he's doing that, I'm super mom. Hopefully we'll get to alternate but we always know the kids are first."
And the many angry fingers pointed at Federline following the demise of his and Spears' two-and-a-half-year marriage?
"He's a trouper," Jackson said. "He knows that everything in life is, you know, an experience and you learn from it and then you get past it. I'm not worried about him."
It was Spears who started to spiral that year, the paparazzi's relentless hounding, the media scrutiny, the pressures of stardom and her concerted efforts to defy expectations and do as she pleased ultimately colliding in an explosion of erratic behavior and concern for her well-being. Having previously been granted joint custody, a judge gave Federline sole physical custody of their sons, then 2-year-old Sean Preston and 12-month-old Jayden James Federline, on Oct. 1, 2007. Fighting her way back from that arrangement would prove a long slog, made all the more complicated by the conservatorship that's been managing her personal and financial affairs since January 2008.
"It was extremely tough watching her go through a phase where she was clearly not OK right after the divorce," Federline reflected to Us Weekly in 2015. "There's a lot more I could have done to help. Taking full custody of the boys sucked the life out of me, but it was for them."
He told Vlad TV, "All I was trying to do was get 50/50 custody. You know, events that unfolded over time, if you want to Google them and go back and look at them, then you'll see why it turned out the way that it did. But now, none of that matters. Everything is cool. Both of us have moved on, our kids are doing great."
They did eventually return to 50/50, but in August 2018 the arrangement was altered to the boys being with their dad 70 percent of the time and their mom 30 percent, the court formally signing off on those terms a year later. "The boys love their mother but the existing arrangement, as reflected in the terms of the most recently entered order, are reflecting what Kevin believes is in the children's best interest," Federline's longtime family law attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan told E! News in September 2019.
Kaplan confirmed last month that the 70-30 arrangement was still in place, and "Kevin enjoys the full extent of the custody that he has. Both parties are working well in exchanging custody."
At the time, Kaplan reiterated that Federline made it a point to stay out of the still-roiling conservatorship conversation surrounding his ex-wife, but that he felt Spears' care manager, Jodi Montgomery, had been doing an "admirable job." (Spears had petitioned the court last year to have Montgomery permanently replace her father, Jamie Spears, as co-conservator of her person after she temporarily filled in while Jamie had some health issues, but the judge opted to leave Jamie in place. Spears' request to have Bessemer Trust Company come onboard as co-conservator of her estate was accepted.)
Most importantly, Sean, 15, and Jayden, 14, "are doing great and Kevin is enjoying watching them grow up and evolve," the lawyer said.
Aside from the occasional photo snapped in past years of Federline and Spears watching their boys plays soccer or otherwise having a familial reason to hang out, they keep the inner workings of their co-parenting relationship entirely private.
In March 2018 Federline's legal camp requested an increase from the $20,000 he was receiving in monthly child support, as explained in court documents, "given that the kids are older and the financial circumstances of the parties are significantly different than when the child support was originally resolved." Asked about the sizable sum that had made him the target of ridicule in some circles, he told Vlad TV back in 2016, "It's not something that I asked for, either. It's all about the kids. That's what it's for...They're supposed to be able to live a life that they're accustomed to. If the shoe was on the other foot, I'd be in those shoes. Smiling and being full-willing."
But other than the occasional custody-related proceeding he's had to tend to, his name inevitably invoked publicly, the former dancer, aspiring rapper, occasional actor, reality show participant and, more recently, sometimes-DJ has largely kept his head down and focused on his family.
Yet he did have to atone for his past bad behavior to get to this more even-keeled place.
Appearing on Celebrity Fit Club in 2010, he publicly apologized to Jackson six years after flying off into the sunset with Spears, telling her, "I know I've caused you a lot of pain and I've been really selfish. I guess I got so wrapped up in all this other s--t that I never really sat back and had a chance to apologize to you. I really do want you to know that I am sorry."
Jackson told him, "I felt like the whole relationship was not real by the way you handled it ending, and that killed me."
To which he admitted, "I think I got caught up in my own selfishness. When you're in a moment like that you don't really think about anyone else. It's just been a wild ride the last few years and I'm sorry that you got a big s--t at the end of that stick."
Jackson said it was the first time since the breakup that she had glimpsed the man she thought she knew all those years ago, explaining on the show, "'For the past few years I felt, I don't know who this dude is inhabiting Kevin's body, but that's not him. But at that moment I saw Kevin and thought, That's awesome."
Meanwhile, Federline had quietly been dating former volleyball player turned special education teacher Victoria Prince since 2008, having hit it off bowling in a recreational league called the Party Animals. They welcomed their first child together, daughter Jordan Kay, in August 2011. Two years later, they got married in Las Vegas, Federline popping the question after pretending it was a business trip.
"Victoria Prince, will you marry me in two days, in front of 30 of our closest family and friends?" he inquired. In quick succession they obtained a license and tied the knot Aug. 10, 2013, at the Hard Rock Hotel. "I promise to be the best mother to our children, and be the wife that you deserve," Prince vowed during the intimate ceremony. "I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you."
Their second daughter, Peyton Marie, was born in April 2014.
"Words cannot express the joy my children bring me. We are very excited to welcome the newest member of our family," Federline wrote on Instagram at the time, noting that then three-weeks-old Peyton was the only one of his offspring to end up with blue eyes. "I love you with all my heart [Victoria]. #thefedz #sixthman I mean #sixthwoman."
He still has that Instagram account but it's long been wiped clean of posts, and he last tweeted in 2018, announcing he'd be DJing a combination St. Patrick's Day party-40th birthday celebration in his honor in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Not that Federline doesn't have little birdies telling him what's happening on Instagram, such as when son Jayden went live last March and called his grandfather Jamie Spears a "pretty big dick."
The teen's surprise commentary came almost seven months after Federline secured a restraining order against his former father-in-law, having filed a police report alleging there was a physical altercation at Jamie's home involving Sean, an exchange he did not witness but Spears told him about. As of last month, the boys hadn't spoken to Jamie since 2019, per the order prohibiting contact.
"It's the result of a 13-year-old acting like a 13-year-old," Kaplan, Federline's lawyer, said in response to the immediate hubbub over Jayden's livestream. "Kevin was not happy to see that and he is addressing it as you would expect a responsible parent to address it."
A source told E! News at the time, "He was experimenting on social media and he will learn from it. He doesn't understand the consequences, but hopefully he will now. When your family is in the public eye it's a whole different ball game with what you can and can't share."
Britney Spears' Instagram posts, of course, are considered such precious nuggets of communication they inspired their own podcast, Britney's Grams, and dissecting her messages have become a national pastime.
After "Framing Britney Spears" premiered, Spears' boyfriend, Sam Asghari, echoed Jayden's opinion, sharing on his Instagram story, "Now it's important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way. In my opinion, Jamie is a total dick."
The conservatorship has been extended until at least September.
Federline's mainly stayed discreet as far as behind-the-scenes details of his life with Spears and whatever he's witnessed since—not least because her conservatorship means there are legal implications to everything. And he plays his domestic cards close to the vest. But the handful of interviews Federline has given over the years indicate he's very happy with Prince and has settled into a respectful groove with Sean and Jayden's famous mom.
"You fall into your routine and it's really easy now," he told Bravo's Personal Space in 2017. "It wasn't always easy, but it's a lot easier now."
At one time, of course, he had hoped he and Spears would be raising their family together for the long haul.
"We had an instant chemistry—and then it became a soap opera for the world," he told Us Weekly in 2015. "It surprised me how down-to-earth she was, with normal Southern values instilled by her parents—but also, obviously, not that innocent… I have so many great memories that outweigh the bad."
And admittedly, "I soaked up as much of the lifestyle as I could. I'd walk into a club and get a table worth $15,000 a night with unlimited free drinking. To not have to worry about making my next car payment felt like a huge weight lifted off my soul. But everything got so crazy."
"I really thought I'd spend the rest of my life with her," he continued. "There were a few drastic things that went down, which I'll never talk about, but overall we still had fun. So when she filed for divorce, I was completely caught off guard. Look, there are a million things I could say about her that would make huge headlines and cause a ton of drama, but for what? The truth is I loved her to death."
Federline actually credited Spears with helping him figure out what was important in a relationship, paving the way for him to commit to someone again.
"Things that she brought out in me were, a better sense on having a great relationship with somebody," he explained. "I really learned a lot about what I like in a person from her, a lot."
Of Prince, he said, "Vic is my best friend. We work well together. We both want the same things for our children. Me and Vic know how to have fun together and I think that's important."
After his St. Paddy's Day set in 2018 for his 40th birthday, he and Prince celebrated again the next weekend with some friends at the Crazy Horse III Gentlemen's Club in Vegas. His 43rd on March 21 may be a more subdued affair due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but Sin City does seem to be open for business.
Prince's Instagram page is still up and running, though she hasn't posted any pics of Federline or her kids and stepchildren since 2018. But on Mother's Day that year, after kicking off the Sunday holiday in church, she shared a pic of herself with her own mom and extended brood (it looks like her husband pulled camera duty), and wrote, "Happy Mother's Day to all of the women out there who give their love to a child. There's no greater job in the world! And Happy Mother's Day to @shar_jackson and @britneyspears ... u guys made some pretty amazing babies!!!"
It remains all about those babies, though nowadays he's got teenage boys to impress. Being a DJ helps.
"Their friends really actually love it because I share the same music with them," Federline told Us Weekly in 2019. "They love, you know, a lot of hip-hop music, so it's interesting, especially when their friends come around and they're asking me all kinds of questions about music and who's hot, what's hot right now. It's like, 'Man, you guys tell me! You're the kids! You know.'"
He was hosting and DJing a party at The Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City at the time, and he told Us he was headed straight home afterward.
"I mean, my son's birthday was today and I had to come here so I flew in," he explained. "I get done with the show and I'm literally going right to the airport and flying home."
As he told Bravo in 2017, "Having six, it feels like you're trying to control a basketball team. But it's worth it. All my kids are great, they get along. By the time you have six, you are so well seasoned. I can probably change a diaper with one hand and feed a kid at the same time."
He's since done with diapers, though, thank you.
"I love my kids. My kids are awesome," he told Us. But "I think I got plenty now. I got my hands full."